June 1, 2017

LIB

Fayçal El-Khoury

Liberal

Mr. Fayçal El-Khoury (Laval—Les Îles, Lib.)

Mr. Speaker, some of the reasons for the bill is to have a controlled marijuana industry, to bring more money to the government, and to remove organized crime from the market. Would she elaborate on that, please?

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Cannabis Act
Permalink
CPC

Cathay Wagantall

Conservative

Mrs. Cathay Wagantall

Mr. Speaker, I think the government has a misconstrued idea of what it can do to remove organized crime. There is availability of pretty well any of these vices in our country. I do not believe the government has the capacity to compete in a way that would enable it to wipe out organized crime in this area. Look at what is happening with prescription drugs in our country that are legal and are being abused. We cannot seem to get a handle on that.

We need to do everything we can in our power to say to Canadians, from a very young age, “This is something that is not healthy. It will impact you negatively. We have all the evidence in that regard. It will make you unsafe among other Canadians when you are working. You will impact your ability to learn.”

Where is there an upside in the government saying, “We're going to encourage you to do this in a safe manner”?

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Cannabis Act
Permalink
LIB

Hedy Fry

Liberal

Hon. Hedy Fry (Vancouver Centre, Lib.)

Mr. Speaker, I stand in support of Bill C-45 not because of ideology, not because of my belief, my presumption, or my assumption, but because it is an evidence-based piece of legislation. When we look at what is going on in Europe and other countries, and look at the evidence where they have decriminalized or legalized marijuana, we see that in fact consumption has gone down.

The bill is extremely important, and the police do not spend their time picking up people who are smoking a joint on the street. They go after organized crime and people who are selling heroin on the street.

Why is this an important bill? UNICEF did a study in 2015 that showed that Canada has the highest number of youth who have access to and who smoke cannabis. At the same time, that same UNICEF study showed that Canada has the lowest number of youth using cigarettes and having access to cigarettes.

What is the difference between cannabis and cigarettes? Cigarettes are legal. Alcohol is legal. What do cigarettes, alcohol, and cannabis have in common? They are psychoactive drugs. They have an effect on one's behaviour. They have an effect on a lot of things people do. The legal drug, tobacco, is the only thing that when used exactly as directed would make someone sick and kill them, yet it is legal. It is being sold in this country. We have brought down smoking to the lowest level in the OECD for cigarettes, because we have taken steps to look at packaging. We have taken steps to ensure that they are not sold to people under the age of 18.

This is what we are trying to do, because when our young people have the highest access in the OECD to cannabis, it means they are getting it. They are getting it illegally from street pushers and users whom we cannot moderate. We do not want people to have to buy substances that have an impact on youth from street dealers. We had an opportunity to deal with opioids under the last government, and we did not. Now the dealers who are selling opioids on the street are lacing them with fentanyl and carfentanil. They do not care about quality control. They do not care about the potency of what they are selling. They do not care about any of those things. They just care about selling, and if people die, who cares?

We want to keep this drug out of the hands of our young people. Why young people specifically? We would legalize and regulate this drug because we know that young people have not had their frontal lobes fully developed and we know that cannabis has an impact on cognitive behaviour, and therefore, on the frontal lobe. We do not want them to use cannabis.

Let us look at the three drugs that are psychoactive, two of which are legal at the moment. We have prohibitions on the sale of alcohol, and we have prohibitions on the sale of tobacco. We know that tobacco causes disease and it kills. I do not know of any particular medical properties that tobacco brings to anyone. There are no benefits to using tobacco. There are only side effects.

Let us look at alcohol. We have heard arguments that if we drink a glass of red wine every day it will help us. The jury is out on that. There are still some medicinal benefits for alcohol, but there are negative effects too. MADD would tell us that, in fact, the largest number of motor vehicle accidents in the country come from drunk drivers. We have had to legalize alcohol to ensure young people do not get a hold of it, look at tracking who drinks it, and make sure we set very clear guidelines for what the level of alcohol should be if one is driving, etc.

Cannabis does have medicinal properties. We know it is used for pain, for chronic disease, and it brings down levels of anxiety. We also know that cannabis oil is used in certain amounts for people with epilepsy. Therefore, we know there are medicinal properties, but like anything that has good effects, there are side effects. What we know is that these side effects impact youth more than anyone else, and we do not want youth to have access to it. Therefore, we are doing what we successfully did with alcohol and with tobacco to ensure that young people do not get hold of it.

Why do we have the lowest number of people smoking cigarettes in our country? It is because it is legal and regulated, and we are ensuring that young people cannot buy them. We have very clear penalties and guidelines for anyone who sells it to young people. It is very clear. We are talking about hundreds of thousands of dollars in penalties.

This is the reason the bill is so important.

The bill also authorizes who is allowed to sell, just like with cigarettes and alcohol. If one is an unauthorized seller, for example a street dealer, then that seller will face a penalty of 14 years, especially if he or she sells to a young person. It is a 14-year penalty for people who use a young person to sell cannabis on the street.

We will be tracking this. Like MADD we will be able to educate people about the use of cannabis and the dangers of cannabis. We will be able to track who buys it. We will be able to keep pace with what is going on. All sorts of penalties are going to be available to people who sell cannabis to people who are under age or anybody who is an unauthorized seller.

This is about evidence-based information. This information picks up evidence from other countries to see what has happened. It looks at the sale of alcohol and cigarettes in our own country, and it asks what we did not do. We are not doing anything at the present time. Fifty-one per cent of young people in this country are using cannabis and that level keeps going up. Whatever we are doing right now is not working. When we have the highest level, and I want to harp on this, of young people in the OECD having access to and using cannabis, then we are not doing anything right.

Let us get it right. Let us look at our own evidence in Canada with regard to the sale of cigarettes and alcohol. Let us look at European studies and results. We can then say we are using evidence-based information to stop cannabis from getting into the hands of our young people, who are particularly susceptible because of the cognitive impact of cannabis on them.

I have heard people say that we presume this is going to happen. We put money in the 2017 budget just for a public awareness campaign. We put money in the 2017 budget just to make sure that we have all the money we need for the tools that we need. We are going to train police on how to test for levels of impairment if someone is caught driving with cannabis.

As a physician, I can tell the House that I do not know very many people who were caught impaired after smoking cannabis. Someone has to smoke a lot of cannabis to get to the impaired level, and that means the individual will fall asleep at the wheel of the car before the ignition is even turned on. We know what cannabis does.

We need to do this because it is important. We need to prevent our youth from getting access to a drug that impairs their cognitive ability when their frontal lobes have not completely developed. We need to authorize who sells it just like we do with the other drugs I have talked about. We need clear penalties to deal with their use.

This is clear. I do not understand what the debate is about. This is an easy thing to understand. There is a problem, there is evidence on how to deal with the problem, and that evidence shows success in other drugs that we have legalized. It is a fait accompli. It is simple. We are trying to get at a simple thing. We are trying not to allow cannabis to get into the hands of our youth. The only way we can do that is to legalize it and regulate it.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Cannabis Act
Permalink
CPC

Harold Albrecht

Conservative

Mr. Harold Albrecht (Kitchener—Conestoga, CPC)

Mr. Speaker, I think I heard my colleague use the term “evidence-based” at least a dozen times in her speech. As a medical doctor, she should know that the Canadian Medical Association came out in its last journal and said:

Drawing on current evidence that suggests that the human brain appears to mature until about age 25 years, the Canadian Medical Association, in its response to the federal task force report, recommended that the minimum age of purchase and consumption be set at 21 years. Along with others, the CMA also called for restricting cannabis quantities and potency for those under the age of 25 years, because higher potency increases the risk of adverse effects.

The report goes on.

My question is simple. The Canadian Medical Association recognizes that brain development is mostly finished by age 25 and recommended 21 as the minimum age, yet the Liberal government in its wisdom, using so-called scientific evidence, has chosen to use the age of 18. It has also chosen not to have any penalties for children between the ages of 12 and 18 who have up to five grams in their possession. Where is the scientific evidence when it comes to the use by youth?

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Cannabis Act
Permalink
LIB

Hedy Fry

Liberal

Hon. Hedy Fry

Mr. Speaker, having helped the Canadian Medical Association to write its dissertation on cannabis, I know, and we all know, that cannabis has the same tar and benzopyrenes that are in cigarettes. Should we make cigarettes illegal, then, because cigarettes have tar and benzopyrenes?

What the Canadian Medical Association is talking about is the age limit. This is going to go to committee, and at committee we can talk about whether the age limit should be 18 or 21. These are the kinds of things that we amend at committee. The government is open to listening to that kind of amendment in terms of age limits.

We do know that in fact the Canadian Medical Association has said that it does not like smoking, but vaping may be a way of maintaining it to get rid of the tar and benzopyrenes. It also talks about the use of cannabis oil and cannabis edibles, so smoking is not the only way.

We cannot control the quality or potency unless we legislate it and we control the potency levels. If people buy it from a street dealer right now, it could have the worst potency and have all kinds of contaminants and additives in it, in the same way that we have fentanyl and carfentanil in opiates.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Cannabis Act
Permalink
?

Alistair MacGregor

NDP

Mr. Alistair MacGregor (Cowichan—Malahat—Langford, NDP)

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the member's speech. She laid out some very clear reasoning as to why we do need to change from the status quo.

I think it was a couple of months ago that the Prime Minister admitted in an interview that when his late younger brother got caught with marijuana, his father, the late Pierre Elliott Trudeau, was able to use his connections in the legal community to get his brother off the charges. I think the Prime Minister went on to say that there are two kinds of justice systems, one for the wealthy and well connected and one for everyone else.

Many people are saddled with criminal records for possession of minor amounts of marijuana, and the cost of a pardon is $631, which is a huge cost for the marginalized in our society. We have not heard a commitment from the government on the issue of pardons, and I would like to know the member's personal opinion. Does she think that amnesty should be granted to those who were previously convicted for small possession charges, given that the government is moving ahead with legalization? I would like to know if she would support pardons in those cases and if she would pressure her own government to move ahead with this issue.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Cannabis Act
Permalink
LIB

Hedy Fry

Liberal

Hon. Hedy Fry

Mr. Speaker, one of the stated objectives of this bill is to ensure that we do not have the situation we have now, with the courts being tied up with people who have been charged for possession of a small amount of marijuana. The courts should be used for other things that are far more important.

I visited Europe and drove around Switzerland, Germany, and the Netherlands with the police. They did not pick up marijuana smokers, nor were they interested in them, because that just blocked up the courts. We need to deal with a lot of the backlog in our courts.

If people are going to be charged with cannabis possession, we have to look at their age, because we are still talking about a legal age. We have clear guidelines for how much cannabis someone is allowed to have on their person. We want to make sure that we are not treating a person with simple possession and a person who is selling on the street in the same way, and it is very clear in this bill that there are going to be distinctions on both.

On what has happened in the past, I do not know. Whether there are going to be any pardons is something the committee can discuss and debate. I am not discussing that right now. We are talking about whether we should legalize this drug, whether we should regulate, and whether we should have clear guidelines in terms of potency and who should be authorized to sell it. This is to get the street vendors off the street. It is to deal with the pushers and organized crime who are making money off our young people. We do not see organized crime selling alcohol on the street anymore.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Cannabis Act
Permalink
CPC

Jim Eglinski

Conservative

Mr. Jim Eglinski (Yellowhead, CPC)

Mr. Speaker, I rise again in this House to speak about Bill C-45, the cannabis act. One would think that once would be enough for a member to stand in this House to speak about it, but it is not. Bill C-45 is flawed. I am appalled that the Minister of Justice would present such an ill-prepared bill and arbitrarily force it on Canadians.

Last night I sat in on the debate on Bill C-46, which deals with impaired driving. If people are going to get high over Bill C-45, I can only say it is not going to happen with Bill C-46. One tends to get depressed dwelling on it.

The Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada and I are both former police officers with similar years of service, he an urban city police officer and myself a rural RCMP officer. My hon. colleague must be having difficulty over his party's two bills, and I really feel for him. Making marijuana legal in Canada is wrong. It is simply wrong. Those members across do not understand.

The 2016 report on legalization of marijuana in Colorado should have stopped the Liberals in their tracks, but it did not. Here are some simple facts. We heard a few of them earlier.

Traffic deaths have increased 62% since 2013. That was people using marijuana, by the way.

Use of marijuana by youth increased 20%, yet the American national average declined by 4%.

Do members know that in Colorado youth are ranked number one in the use of marijuana overall in the United States? If we go back to 2005-2006, they were ranked 14th. The education really worked well.

However, let us not blame the youth. Adult use is up 17% in Colorado since they brought the legalizing legislation out, and it has only come up 2% nationally.

Also, adults in Colorado are the number one users in the United States, but if we go back to the same years I mentioned with the younger people, in 2005-2006, they were only number eight. These numbers scare me. They are high.

Did members know that Colorado's adult use increased 63% in the first two years that marijuana was legalized there? That is 42% above the rest of the U.S.A.

I wonder what was causing their numbers to get higher. Oh, yes; maybe it was marijuana.

Did members know that the state of Washington has very similar statistics since it has legalized marijuana?

I have said it before and I will repeat it again. I spent 35 years watching the growth of marijuana use in western Canada from its infancy to what we see today.

Maybe a story or two may help convince our Liberal friends across the way. We all know about second-hand smoke. It is not good. I am just going to give members a scenario.

A group of 18-years-olds went out for a night to some community 100 miles or so from their town. Billy is the driver. He is the designated driver, because Billy does not drink, he does not use marijuana, and he does not use drugs. His carmates are Ralph, Jody, Jane, and Justine. Members might recognize some of these names. I am just using them for certain purposes.

They all celebrated for the night and smoked up a portion of each of their individual 30 grams of marijuana. They continued to do that as Billy drove them home, which was a two-hour drive back to their community. However, what happened was that 15 minutes from home, Billy overcorrected on a sharp corner and lost control, and the vehicle rolled. Billy had not noticed that their speed was at 150 kilometres per hour. None of the five made it home that night alive.

Most people would think that maybe Billy was an innocent person, but the smoke probably made him disoriented. We have not looked at that. The government has not talked about it. I am sorry to be so cynical and depressing, but that is the reality that this legislation will create in this great country of ours.

I have heard people talk about how the legislation will protect our children from organized crime. Well, if I was a drug dealer, all of my street people would be under the age of 17, and I would make sure they never carried more than five grams on their person. It would be a pretty safe way of doing business. That is the shocking part of it. The government has not thought about that.

While I was waiting to speak here, I read a story about an accident that happened in Colorado. It seems strange that it would happen there. A 20-year-old man was turning right on a red light. At the same time, an eight-year-old girl was crossing the intersection with her father. He ran over that eight-year-old girl, and she died under the right and left wheel of his F-250 Ford pickup truck. Actually, the driver never even noticed what he had done. It was only the waving of the father's arms that made him stop. The police arrived and tested him under the procedures that the government is talking about, a legal testing device, although we still do not know if that will be approved. The government is talking about it. We do not know what it will be calibrated to or what the legal limit for THC will be. However, in this particular case, the THC level was at 1.5, which is below Colorado's legal limit of 5.0. However, this person was still charged with impaired driving because the specialists—whom we so lack in this country—came to the scene and were able to verify and prove that this young man was impaired by the drug even though he was substantially under the limit set by the law.

The shocking part of all of this is that this young man was 20 years old, weighed 195 pounds, was on the varsity football team, was in the prime of his life, yet he was so impaired that he did not realize he had driven over a young girl, and he was at less than one-third of the legal limit.

Just imagine, Mr. Speaker, if it was you and your daughter, and the guy driving the vehicle weighed 120 pounds. What would he be at?

I have appeared in courts in British Columbia and given expert evidence as to the effects of alcohol consumption on an individual. I was a breathalyzer operator for over 20 years, and I know how it affects a person and how it is dissipated in a person: the lighter the weight, the greater the effect. However, I do not want to dwell on that too much.

Let us just take a look at one of the most recent studies done in the state of Washington, which states:

The percentage of drivers involved in fatal crashes who had traces of marijuana in their blood has doubled since marijuana was legalized in Washington state....

That has just recently come out.

The researchers also found that 70% of the drivers who failed these sobriety tests and whose impairment was attributed to marijuana by drug recognition experts still had blood levels of THC lower than the five nanograms, which is the level in the state of Washington.

I apologize for doing a bit of shock therapy, but I am appalled by the lack of common sense that I see across the floor, and people bringing legislation out when history shows us what is happening. I do not want to see that happen to my kids, my grandchildren, and my great-grandchild, who was just born.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Cannabis Act
Permalink
LIB

Bill Blair

Liberal

Mr. Bill Blair (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada, Lib.)

Mr. Speaker, my friend opposite and I are family, because as he indicated, he and I both served our communities in uniform and dedicated our lives to protecting kids and keeping communities safe. He will always have my respect for that.

I accept the commiserations that the member offered and the spirit in which they were given, but I want to assure him that they were unnecessary. I cannot say how proud I am to be a member of this government and to have been given the privilege and opportunity to work with and on behalf of the Minister of Justice in finding ways in which we can do a better job of protecting our kids, to restrict their access to a drug that I believe can be very dangerous for them, and to do a better job of keeping our communities safe by taking billions of dollars of criminal enterprise away from organized crime. Like the member opposite, I have spent a great deal of my life fighting organized crime. I know, as he does, what organized crime does in our communities, and the violence and victimization that it is responsible for. I also believe that we have a responsibility to protect the health of our citizens, and I know that the poison sold by criminals is often contaminated with dangerous chemicals and adulterated with even more dangerous drugs.

I have travelled across this country and spoken to families whom I have also worked hard to protect. They have told me they are worried about the health of their kids. They have told me they are worried about the outcomes for those kids in exposing them to those criminals. They are worried that their kids are going to end up with a criminal record.

I would ask the member whether he has given it any thought. Doing nothing is not an option. If not strictly regulating the production, distribution, and consumption of cannabis, restricting the access that kids would have to it, and taking this profit away from crime, what would the member do instead?

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Cannabis Act
Permalink
CPC

Jim Eglinski

Conservative

Mr. Jim Eglinski

Mr. Speaker, I consider the hon. member a friend and I respect his career in law enforcement. We might have different paths, but the same goals. I do remember one thing he said. He was 25 years old when he was out there protecting, and they gave him a gun and he may have had to use it for legal action. I actually beat him. I think I was only 19.

I totally agree with what the member across has said. We need to do something, but making it legal is not what we need to do. We need to spend money on education, education, education, and not only the public. I heard earlier about $5.9 million being spent on education. That is in the budget. There are 11 or 12 provinces and territories in this country, so that is less than $200,000 each. The ICBC, when I was in British Columbia as a police officer there, was spending approximately $5 million a year on its program against impaired driving. It started to work, but it took a long time. Therefore, we need education, but not only with the children. We need it with the parents, through the schools, to the police officers. We need to get the message out that marijuana is bad.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Cannabis Act
Permalink
?

Christine Moore

NDP

Ms. Christine Moore (Abitibi—Témiscamingue, NDP)

Mr. Speaker, I would like to talk about the process that led to this bill and that, I think, raises a number of questions.

In particular, in the drafting of this bill, we learned that a consultant was asked to do a study. The consultant, a friend of the Liberal Party, was paid $74,000 to find out how much marijuana costs on the street. Over time, we also learned that a number of Liberal Party friends are shareholders in marijuana companies, and that they stand to make money off this legalization.

Would the member care to comment on that, or on the fact that some people stand to make money on the legalization of marijuana?

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Cannabis Act
Permalink
LIB

Geoff Regan

Liberal

The Speaker

The hon. member for Yellowhead has about 30 seconds.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Cannabis Act
Permalink
CPC

Jim Eglinski

Conservative

Mr. Jim Eglinski

Mr. Speaker, I know that the hon. member is deeply concerned. I see her carrying her child around here, and I am deeply concerned for her child's future.

Big business will benefit from this move being made by the Liberal government. Let us not mix anything. Just watch the stock market going up for those companies that have invested in legalized marijuana grow operations. Is it going to stop there? Absolutely not. The criminal element is also going to climb and prosper in this country, and I will tell you why, Mr. Speaker. I have yet to see anything in the legislation proposed by the Government of Canada to tell me how we are going to test the level of the marijuana that kids under the age of 18 are carrying, or even those—

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Cannabis Act
Permalink
LIB

Geoff Regan

Liberal

The Speaker

Order, I am afraid the hon. member will have to tell me why later.

Resuming debate. The member for Abitibi—Témiscamingue.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Cannabis Act
Permalink
?

Christine Moore

NDP

Ms. Christine Moore (Abitibi—Témiscamingue, NDP)

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise to speak to this bill because it is important. While I do support it, I have some reservations, and we need to ask a lot of questions.

Why is the government choosing to do this?

The member for Vancouver Centre said clearly in her speech that, unlike alcohol or tobacco, using cannabis could be justified for certain medical conditions.

I do not understand why the government did not decide to make marijuana an over-the-counter drug instead of legalizing it for recreational use. That option could have been studied, but apparently, it was not. It could have been safer for people to go into a pharmacy if they wanted to buy marijuana and speak to a pharmacist every time. Marijuana could have been an over-the-counter drug.

This substance can interact with medication and other health conditions. Speaking of recreational usage, the government is trivializing the possible side effects associated with the drug. This approach and word choice is unfortunate. In a good many cases, recreational usage is not limited to having fun. Many people have told us that they use marijuana without a prescription because they have a hard time sleeping and it helps them fall asleep.

These people are not using marijuana for fun. They are using it to treat a health problem. They are self-medicating. “Recreational use” implies that anyone who uses marijuana without a prescription is assumed to be doing so for fun. That trivializes marijuana consumption and causes a problem.

Some of the bill's provisions will be difficult to act on because they are so vague. They lack clarity. For example, the bit about people being allowed to own four plants up to 100 centimetres is not very clear.

First of all, who is going to go into people's houses and measure those plants? Second, what if the plants are two centimetres too tall? Will the offending centimetres have to be cut off? Is there a fine per centimetre?

There are a lot of factors to consider here, and a bunch of measures that will be hard to implement because nobody has come up with concrete ways to implement them.

I mentioned the plant height, but who is going to be responsible for going to people's houses to see if they have four plants or not? How is that going to be monitored?

This is very complicated, and it downloads a lot of responsibility onto the provinces. I mentioned the $74,000 paid to an outside consulting firm to find out what marijuana sells for on the street so some kind of pricing scheme can be developed. The government gave a consultant a contract and then ended up telling the provinces to set their own prices.

That is a pretty strange way to do things. There is going to be a lot of pressure on the provinces even though they were not necessarily consulted during the process. The government put all of this out there expecting the provinces to do all the work.

The biggest problem was that a health problem was being treated as a crime problem.

This resulted in young people having a criminal record. It also put pressure on the judicial system, which is ongoing, because we were still prosecuting people for simple possession of marijuana for personal use. The biggest problem is that we are clogging the judicial system. In light of the Jordan decision, it is even more important to eliminate from our courts cases that should not be prosecuted and could be handled differently.

In my opinion, drug use should be viewed as a health issue. We must provide the tools to fight addiction, do screening tests, provide support for prevention, and provide clear guidelines to health professionals so they know what to do.

At present, we do not have a lot of information about marijuana and medical marijuana. For example, we still do not know the exact profile of drug interactions. We know that cytochromes affect metabolism, but we do not know which ones. Although we know something about it, the profile of drug interactions is still not completely understood. We often look to past cases rather than a complete biochemical analysis. Thus, there is a lot information missing.

The most serious shortcoming of the Liberal bill is that it does not leave enough room to do an about-face. Once it becomes legal, the product will be on the shelves, companies will have been set up, and there will be an important lobby. We will not have the breathing room to gradually move forward with the bill. We go straight to legalization whereas we could have gone step by step, with the first step being the decriminalization. Then, we could have gradually moved forward if legalization were required. At present, we are heading straight for legalization, a commercial legalization that is going to create companies and lobbies. It will not be easy to reverse this legalization.

Even though I support the bill, I think the government's approach does not leave a lot of room to manoeuvre. We will be stuck with this decision without really knowing if it was the best way to proceed, when what the government could have done was simply decriminalize marijuana immediately and stop treating a health problem like a crime problem.

What we have here is a bill that raises a lot of concerns. Unfortunately, there are some answers we will not have until well after the bill is passed. Once the law has been in force for a few years, we may start to realize that legalizing marijuana too quickly caused some problems, but by then it might be too late for a do-over.

We do not know exactly what the impact will be in jurisdictions that have legalized marijuana because the measures have been in place for just a few years. Some of these measures may be re-evaluated in ten or twenty years, but by then it may be too late to take action.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Cannabis Act
Permalink
?

Sheri Benson

NDP

Ms. Sheri Benson (Saskatoon West, NDP)

Mr. Speaker, I think both my colleague and I would agree that young people should not have barriers for the rest of their lives, trouble finding employment, housing, or travelling because they have been convicted for possessing a very small amount of cannabis. We heard the Prime Minister talk about his experience in his family when his late brother was able to avoid that happening to him.

I wonder if my colleague could comment on how she feels about the fact that many young people are going to continue to be convicted for something that will be legal in the next 15 months.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Cannabis Act
Permalink
?

Christine Moore

NDP

Ms. Christine Moore

Mr. Speaker, that is one of the things that I find the most problematic.

Since we know that cannabis will be made legal a little over a year from now, it does not make sense to continue prosecuting people and bogging down the court system. Right now, murderers and people who have committed serious crimes are being allowed to go free because of the Jordan decision, and meanwhile, we are continuing to bog down our court system with cases like this.

The government could have decriminalized cannabis right away and implemented a system that would have allowed the police to give out fines and seize cannabis, since it would still be illegal. Rather than initiating a long legal process, the offence would be punishable by a fine. I think that that is a measure that should have been put in place immediately. It would have made it possible to avoid legal proceedings while still punishing offenders.

Most importantly, it would have helped reduce the burden on our courts and prevented people who have committed serious crimes from being released because of procedural delays.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Cannabis Act
Permalink
CPC

Robert Gordon Kitchen

Conservative

Mr. Robert Kitchen (Souris—Moose Mountain, CPC)

Mr. Speaker, I am sure my colleague is well aware that in 2013 Uruguay became the first country to legalize all aspects of marijuana use, and the intended purpose was to shrink the black market. I would be interested in hearing the member's comments on if she feels this legislation would have any effect at all on shrinking the black market for this product.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Cannabis Act
Permalink
?

Christine Moore

NDP

Ms. Christine Moore

Mr. Speaker, I am not an expert on the black market, but from what I have read recently in the media, there is no guarantee that this legislation will eliminate the black market because, unfortunately, there is still money to be made.

Although it could happen, there is still a risk that the legalization of cannabis does not have the intended effect on the black market. For example, if the government does not manage to set a low enough price, then people may turn to the black market. That is what is currently happening with cigarettes. Many people buy cigarettes on the black market because of the high price of tobacco.

There is no real guarantee that the black market will be eliminated. It will depend on the price. It remains to be seen. However, some people who have done research on this seem to be calling into question the Liberals' claim that this will eliminate the black market.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Cannabis Act
Permalink
LIB

Geoff Regan

Liberal

The Speaker

The member for Marc-Aurèle-Fortin has time for a very brief question.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Cannabis Act
Permalink

June 1, 2017